Rattan, from the Malay rotan, is the name of about 600 species of palms belonging to the tribe Calameae; they are native to the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australasia. Most rattans differ from other palms in that they have slender stems with long internodes between the leaves, and are more vine-like than tree-like, being superficially similar to bamboo. Unlike bamboo, though, rattan stems–or malacca–are solid, and most species need structural support because they cannot stand on their own. Some genera, though, are much more like typical palms. Most of the world’s rattan population exists in Indonesia, particularly in Borneo, Sulawesi, and Sumbawa; the rest of the world’s supply comes from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.
Perhaps most notably, rattans are used extensively for making furniture and baskets. When cut into sections, they can be used as wood, and rattan accepts paints and stains like many other kinds of wood, thus making them available in many different colors. Moreover, the inner core can be separated and worked into wicker. At least some of the furniture in the Safari Lodge on Isla Nublar was made of rattan.